What is Adware?

Posted on Dec 2, 2018 by Sean Doyle

adware pop up

Adware is software that displays advertisements, directs your browser to advertising websites, and collects information about your browsing habits so that advertisements can be shown to you based from your online activity.

Advertisements displayed by adware are typically produced within an Internet Browser window; However, they can also be displayed in the user interface of software, especially during the installation process.

Adware is not specific to any form of advertisement styles. There are various forms of advertisements that can be generated by adware such as pop-up advertisements, banner advertisements, pop-under advertisements that open a new browser window underneath your current one, and in-text advertisements that highlight words through text on a web page and direct you to a new web page when clicked.

Adware can also change your existing Internet Browser settings including the existing homepage and search settings. When your home page is changed by adware your browser will launch onto a new website and when you search settings are changed by adware, the searches you perform in the address bar will redirect to a search engine you may not be familiar with.

The primary objective of adware is to generate revenue for the developer by displaying advertisements, showing you sponsored content, and collecting marketing-type data about you.

Marketing-type data collected by adware may include what you search for online, the website you are visiting, browser history, browser apps and themes, downloads, and content you submit into online forms.

Marketing-type data is used to display targeted advertisements and create a marketing profile. Targeted advertisements are custom advertisements that improve the effectiveness of advertising for advertisers. They reduce the chance of wasting an advertisement by sending specific advertisements to consumers. This leads to lower advertising costs and expenditures.

Software that collects marketing-type data without your consent is frequently considered malware (malicious software). Malware displays unwanted advertisements and utilizes sophisticated methods to obtain data.

Advertisements shown by malware are sometimes in the form of a pop-up or a pop-under. The advertisements typically promote unfamiliar third-party programs and sites and can be contained in a window that is difficult to close.

There are several ways that adware can get into your system. Adware can trick you into installing it by disguising itself as a legitimate program. The adware may bolster itself as a necessary program such as an update for your system or security program. It may also disguise itself as a legitimate third-party program you seek to download.

Another method used by adware is to bundle with or piggyback on another program. Potentially unwanted programs (PUPs) and malware are two common types of programs that bundle adware.

Software such as freeware or shareware can quietly install adware without your knowledge or permission. They do this because the program’s author signed up with the adware vendor in order to generate revenue.

Adware can also sneak onto your system when you visit a site infected with adware. The adware can take advantage of a vulnerability in your web browser so that it can be delivered by a drive by download.


How to Remove Adware

If you are infected with adware there are a few steps you can take to remove the infection. It is recommended to backup your files first before you take any steps to remedy the problem.

You can try to uninstall adware through the utility on your operating system. For example, this is the step you take to add or remove programs from a Windows operating system. However, this requires you to identify the name of the adware before you know which application or program to remove. Furthermore, some adware will return to your computer even after you uninstall it.

The best way to remove adware from your system is to download a reputable cyber-security program to search for and eradicate adware including potentially unwanted programs and malware.

Run a scan on your system using the security program. If adware is detected in the scan it will be removed from your system by the security program.

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